Preview: DiRT: Showdown (PC)

We had our hands at the wheel (or keyboard) with the preview build of the upcoming DiRT spin-off, DiRT: Showdown.

DiRT: Showdown is, again, a spin-off of the DiRT racing series of games. It is definitely not to be taken seriously like you would with your regular DiRT game. I’d like to think of it where DiRT fans can kick off their shoes to relax with mindless vehicular carnage. The game is host to a variety of racing modes to sink your teeth in. These modes were laid out in different locations, such as Miami, San Francisco and Yokohama.

I immediately loved how the game smacks you on the face with “yes, you’re playing in a Demolition Derby”, presenting itself with a big bold look full of panning camera effects on its menus accompanied with lens flares and camera flashes. Everything about the event location looks pristine (before the event begins, at least).

The preview set us off with Race Off, on which you race your opponents to the finish on a track littered with obstacles and stunt ramps. Drop your usual DiRT manners here, because Showdown demands that you get rough. In typical Burnout fashion, you can bully your opponents into stepping back and eating your dust through shunts and collisions before boosting past the finish line.

Rampage brought us to San Francisco for a no-holds-barred demolition derby allowing us to smash into our opponents for points. In similar fashion, Knock-out gave us the chance to sumo-wrestle cars off an elevated platform. All player have a health bar, and wrecking your opponents will reset them just like you will when you are taken out. Vehicular debris left behind are tangible pieces that your vehicle can hit, which is a nice touch.

Unlike your standard DiRT games, licensed favourites like vehicles from Subaru and Ford are only seen in certain game modes, like one where you go head-to-head with another opponent doing a series of tricks in a specific order, which I felt was kinda restrictive when I kept failing at the first drift. The rest of the cars used are unlicensed vehicles made for destruction.

A notable feature across all game modes is the ability to watch a replay of the entire event, switch cameras and even upload your best moments to YouTube (that feature wasn’t enabled in the preview).

Players accustomed to Burnout’s series or even Codemaster’s own GRID would feel right at home with DiRT: Showdown. The preview didn’t show off all of its features, of course, such as online multiplayer and the social features. The game faces a May 2012 release date for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC.

Check out all our videos in the gallery above or on our YouTube playlist here.

Videos and screenshots in this article were captured on an iMac (Early 2009, 2.93GHz) running Windows 7 on Boot Camp.